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Open Graduate Education: New Class Gains Tools for Innovative Research

Brown Graduate School selected 11 PhD students for the Open Graduate Education program, which provides the flexibility and resources to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field while they earn their doctorates.  The sixth cohort includes Parsa Bastani, Rachel Deraney, William Jordan, Lu Lu, Gabriela Manzano Nieves, Watufani Poe, Anni Pullagura, Diego Ramos Toro, Keith Spangler, Remington Stuck, and Martin Uildriks. “I will be exposed to rigorous and diverse perspectives,” says Economics student Ramos Toro, who will enter the History program. “This will be vital as I go through the process of formulating innovative research questions, and also in providing tools that will be crucial when answering them.”

Six of the 11 PhD students will cross divisional lines as they enter a master’s program:

  • Bastani, Anthropology, seeks a master’s in Public Health
  • Deraney, Biomedical Engineering, also enters Public Health
  • Jordan, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry,  studies Data Science
  • Lu, Applied Math, seeks a master’s in Computer Science
  • Manzano Nieves, Neuroscience, enters the Public Affairs program
  • Poe, Africana Studies, seeks a master’s in History
  • Pullagura, American Studies, focuses on History of Art and Architecture
  • Ramos Toro, Economics, enters the History program
  • Spangler, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, studies Epidemiology
  • Uildriks, Archaeology, seeks a master’s in Computer Science

The aim of the distinctive program is to enhance the educational options for excellent doctoral students, catalyze new interdisciplinary pursuits, and prepare students for the demands of the job market.  

“As a doctoral student in an interdisciplinary program,” says Poe, “I know it will be an advantage for me on the job market to have a master’s in a traditional discipline.”

Brown doctoral students from all disciplines are eligible to apply to the program, which is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Students propose and pursue a combination of studies, without sacrificing depth in the primary field. The opportunity enables integrative research and unique dissertations while furthering professional development.  

Lu thinks that the combination of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science will provide him with the skills of mathematical modeling and cutting-edge computational methods for modern high-performance computing architectures, which are needed to develop and solve mathematical models from the sciences, engineering, medicine, and in other fields. 

Article by Beverly Larson; photo by Susan Ely.